Banned in the Media: A Reference Guide to Censorship in the Press, Motion Pictures, Broadcasting, and the Internet

By Sumpter, Randall S. | Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Spring 1999 | Go to article overview

Banned in the Media: A Reference Guide to Censorship in the Press, Motion Pictures, Broadcasting, and the Internet


Sumpter, Randall S., Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly


* Banned in the Media: A Reference Guide to Censorship in the Press, Motion Pictures, Broadcasting, and the Internet. Herbert N. Foerstel. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing, 1998. 252 pp. $49.95 hbk.

Herbert N. Foerstel, author of Banned in the II.S.A.. A Reference Guide to Book Censorship in Schools and Public Libraries, is back with a sequel that covers censorship in the rest of the mass media. His latest work is divided into four chapters and two appendices. The first chapter briefly recapitulates the history of censorship in newspapers, magazines, radio, television, motion pictures, and the Internet. The discussion of motion pictures omits newsreels. More important than this recitation is the conceptual framework the author builds for understanding the evolution of media censorship: First Amendment protection operates on a sliding scale with the print media enjoying the highest level of security; broadcast the lowest. The least protected media tend to acquiesce to moral and ideological comstockery by instituting self-censorship. "Supply-side" censorship introduced during World War II has grown into news management by government of classified as well as nonclassified information. Finally, Foerstel leaves us with an absorbing question: Will the First Amendment or antitrust laws and the Federal Communications Commission arbitrate who will have access to the Information Age's "superhighway"?

The second chapter examines seven key examples of media censorship attempts spanning the 260 odd years from the Zenger trial in 1735 to Carnegie Mellon University's efforts to censor sexually explicit material on campus computer bulletin boards. Chapter 3 examines the evolution of American press freedom by evaluating twenty-eight nineteenth- and twentieth-century court cases.

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Banned in the Media: A Reference Guide to Censorship in the Press, Motion Pictures, Broadcasting, and the Internet
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